Mangrove forests are vital to coastal ecosystems, providing shelter for myriad species, acting as a buffer between storms and the land, and sequestering carbon, among other benefits. So protecting them directly benefits humans.
Sri Lanka is home to 22 species of mangroves, and the island is on course to become the first country to protect all of its mangroves.
"Seacology, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization, last year launched a $3.4 million, five-year mangrove conservation and replanting program with the Sri Lankan government. A museum funded by the group opened in Pambala on Tuesday, World Mangrove Day [July 26], to exhibit mangroves, fish and crab species bred in the lagoons, with facilities for study and research," reports ABC News.
Meanwhile, much of the country's previously destroyed mangrove habitat will be restored, including replanting 1,000 acres by the end of this year.
"Mangroves swiftly absorb carbon dioxide and inject oxygen into the atmosphere, maintaining an ecological balance vital for the environment," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a statement. "It is my belief that the mangrove restoration project will generate much-needed awareness among key stakeholders such as the community, leisure sector personnel, tourists, and the general public."